The Governor greeted Bond with an enthusiastic warm, dry handshake.
"It's great to see you again, James," he said.
"Thank you, sir, you're looking well."
The Governor shook his head. "Lord, I'm an old man, and I look like one. But you haven't changed a bit. What do you do, take frequent trips to the Fountain of Youth? And who might this lovely lady be?"
"This is my assistant, Helena Marksbury," Bond said. She was dressed in a fashionable lightweight red cotton dress with a wrap covering her bare shoulders and ample cleavage. Bond was wearing a light blue cotton short-sleeve polo shirt and navy blue cotton twill trousers. His light, gray silk basketweave jacket covered the Walther PPK that he still kept in a chamois shoulder holster.
"Do you remember my wife, Marion?" the Governor asked, gesturing to a handsome woman with white hair and sparkling blue eyes.
"Of course, how are you?"
"Fine, James," the woman said. "Come on in, both of you, please."
The dinner party was in a century-old colonial-style mansion off Thompson Boulevard, near the College of the Bahamas. The former Governor was obviously wealthy, as there seemed to be no end to the line of servants waiting to attend to Bond and his date. More than two dozen guests were already in the drawing room, which was next to a large living room with an open bay window overlooking expansive gardens. There were people outside as well, standing in clusters with drinks in hand. Ceiling fans leisurely provided a breeze.
For the first time since he had been visiting the Governor, Bond also noticed an undeniable presence of security. Large men dressed in white sport coats were positioned at various entrances, suspiciously eyeing everyone who walked past. He wondered if there was perhaps some VIP present who would require such protection.
As they were uncomfortable socializing with people they didn't know, Bond and Helena kept to themselves and went outside to the gardens. It was still bright, and night wouldn't fall for another two hours.
They approached the outdoor bar. "Vodka martini, please," Bond said, "shaken, not stirred, with a twist of lemon."
"I'll have the same," Helena said. She had actually grown to like the way Bond ordered his martini.
"This is lovely," Helena said.
"It's lovely as long as we're alone," Bond replied. "I don't relish making small talk with the Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Millers of the world," he said, indicating the other people milling around.
"Who are Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Miller?"
"Just a couple I met at a previous dinner party here."
"Ah, there you are," the Governor declared. "I see you've got yourselves something to drink, good, good....How's Sir Miles doing, by the way?" He was referring to Bond's old chief, the former M, Sir Miles Messervy.
"He's fine," Bond was happy to report. "His health improved rapidly after he retired. Getting out of the job was the best thing for him really. He seems ten years younger."
"That's good to hear. Tell him hello for me the next time you see him, would you?"
"How do you get on with the new M?" the Governor asked with a twinkle in his eye.
"We have a sterling relationship," Bond said.
"No problems accepting orders from a woman? I'm surprised, James! You're the one who once told me that you could marry only an air hostess or a Japanese woman."
Bond grinned wryly at the memory. "She runs a tight ship and runs it well."
"Well, that's great! I'm glad to hear it," the Governor said with a little too much enthusiasm. Bond thought he might be a bit drunk. "Listen, I'm so glad you came, really, James, because I want to-"
This excerpt reprinted from HIGH TIME TO KILL by Raymond Benson by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 1999 by Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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